As a keen amateur snapper and a lover of wildlife too, I often encounter a few problems when trying to combine the two passions. Spending hours and hours with my eyes permanently glaring at the bird table or crouching down in some muddy crevice on a bitter cold morning waiting to get the perfect shot are (sadly) luxuries I can no longer afford. In those halcyon days when I did have the time, various combinations of cramp, boredom, slow reactions and cheap equipment would help ensure that I almost always totally missed the perfect action piece to complement my snapbook.
Although my reactions have not improved with age, happily technology has. Those helpful folks at Brinno Inc have created the BirdWatchCam to take much of guesswork, and almost all of the hard work, out of getting perfect photos of our avian friends, wherever they may choose to frequent and however fast they choose to fly.
The introduction to the product on the website says it all really “Millions of people love taking pictures. Millions of people love watching birds. Many millions of people love taking pictures of the birds they watch.” Rather than take a personal approach to wildlife photography, the BridWatchCam is all about setting it up and leaving it alone. And the set up seems simple enough.
Insert the batteries. Choose a point opposite a feeder or nest box between one and a half and three meters away, use the suckers to attach the device to a window or tie or fix it to a tree/post or attach to any tripod that you might just have lying around. Then press the button on top of the camera and use the class II targeting laser to line up your optimum action area and walk away. Yes, walk away!
The weatherproof BirdWatchCam is motion-activated so when a bird flies in front of the camera’s 9 to 12 inch sensing area, the sensor wakes the camera up from sleep mode to take 20 seconds worth of shots. During this time you’ll hopefully get some glorious close up shots of birds in flight or at the feeder and not being attacked by the neighborhood cat! When it’s finished, the unit goes back to sleep until activated again. To help ensure the four AA batteries last as long as possible, it will also stay in sleep mode during the night, waking up again when the sun rises.
The 1.3 megapixel CMOS sensor should provide some decent quality images of all the action at the feeding table or nest box. The resulting photos are stored on an included 2Gb SD card (expandable to 8Gb for extended periods of use) in JPEG format and are date and time stamped. Obviously you won’t get the same super-detailed, high quality photos that you would if you were using your favorite Nikon or Canon but the BirdWatchCam should save you from hours of equal measures of tedium and frustration.
Are you a budding wildlife photo journalist and if so, what tech do you use to help you get the best action shots?